Naturmend’s Holistic Nutritionist Tracy Thiessen shares her own personal story about the connection between sleep and the liver she has recently made this spring.
Since being woken up at the same time every night , Tracy suspected her body was trying to tell her something. By taking a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) approach to observing the connections between the body’s organ systems and sleep cycles, she was able to connect the dots and draw some conclusions with what her body’s messages were communicating to her.
What is the connection between sleep and the liver?
Lately I have been waking up at the same time every night between 1am and 3am, but most often it is 1:30am. At first I didn’t think much about it, but after several nights of consistently waking up at the same time, I began to think that there had to be a reason why this was happening – and I was longing to be able to sleep through the night.
The last year or two I have been working on being in tune with my body and listening to its messages. Believe it or not, our bodies are continuously communicating with us whether or not we choose to acknowledge this. After becoming more aware of these signals, I knew my body was saying something I needed to listen to. So I started digging deeper with the connection between sleep and the liver.
As I casually mentioned this to my colleagues, the common response I was getting was “that’s liver time”. Unbeknownst to me, each organ has a time of the day/night where it does its thing. I began to dig a bit deeper into sleep cycles to find out what is really going on.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a Chinese “meridian clock” is used to show the times of day when each organ system is most active.
This is what it says:
1am-3am – Liver
3am-5am – Lungs
5am-7am– Large intestines
7am-9am – Stomach
9am-11am – Spleen & pancreas
11am- 1pm – Heart & mind
1pm-3pm – Small intestine
3pm – 5pm – Bladder
5pm -7 pm – Kidneys
7pm – 9pm – Pericardium
9pm- 11pm – Triple heater (related to metabolism)
11pm- 1am – Gallbladder
Based on this clock, the time I was waking up was indeed liver time! This had me thinking about what is going on with my liver…
From an emotional standpoint, the liver is associated with the emotions anger, frustration and resentment (to name a few). Have I been angry lately? Feeling some resentment? I retraced my life in the last month and found some places where emotions may be lingering. Was that possibly contributing to my 1:30am wake up?
In my quest, I also found out that the liver is associated with spring time, which, despite the snow in Calgary, has creeped up on us. Coincidence? Maybe it was time to support my liver and deal with some emotions.
Everything started to fit together and the question to my interrupted sleep was slowly being answered.
How fitting also, that as we enter in to spring, this a common time to consider cleansing and detoxification. It only makes sense that our livers need to cleanse during this time. I believe we need to be supporting our liver at all times, but especially in the spring time to remove some built up congestion.
As we become aware that the subtle hints from our bodies can actually mean something, (and when we pay attention), we can become more in tune with the communication lines between our mind and body. Once we begin listening, the body’s clues can be very helpful and insightful to us.
There may not be anything going on with your liver, gall bladder or stomach for that matter. But there are many ways we can support the liver and our sleep habits.
Some helpful tips for supporting your liver and a good nights rest are:
- Drinking lemon water in the morning
- Sip on dandelion root tea throughout the day
- Choose foods from the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) for their liver supporting properties
- Try your best to express emotion in a healthy way, rather than suppress it
- Let dinner be your lightest meal of the day
- Try to have your last meal or snack approximately 2 hours before bed
- Turn off your phone, computer or Ipad for at least one hour before bed time. Use this time instead for a good book, journaling, reflection or meditation
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and sugar after 3 pm.
- Practice gentle yoga throughout the day
- Make time for you, and what you enjoy doing.
Tracy Thiessen is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant, C.H.N.C.™. Her interest in nutrition started at a young age, when she learned how to prepare meals but also began to question what was in the foods she ate. Her curiosity and interest continued after seeing major improvements in her own health after modifying her diet and altering her lifestyle, which led her to study Nutrition.